THE CIVIL RIGHTS COUNCIL AND THE CITIZENS ACTION FOR JUSTICE

The Civil Rights Council, a Human Rights group of Nigerian citizens mostly of rural and sub-urban backgrounds with the support of Social Development Integrated Centre – Social Action carried out series of activities in their campaign for the respect of the rule of law, human rights and justice for deprived citizens in Nigeria.

These activities have become important in view of the incessant cases of human rights abuses by security agencies across the country and impunity by state actors in the hems of affairs in government. In pursuance of the above goals of the political education project, the Civil Rights Council has been embarking on series of educational programs and other activities across many states in the Niger Delta and other parts of the country. 

Human Rights Education and Sensitisation of the Nigerian Police  

In other to reduce the incidences of police brutality across the country as seen in the many cases of extrajudicial killings, torture and unlawful detentions in the country, the Port Harcourt Civil Rights Council took up the programme of police sensitization and education on the issues of the fundamental human rights guaranteed in chapter 5 of the constitution of the Federal Republic of Nigeria 1999 as amended. The chapter enunciates the basic rights of all Nigerians and hence, cannot be denied anyone except by the provisions of the constitution.

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Figure 1. Zero Tolerance to Human Rights Abuse organised by the Warri CRC

In an expedition of lectures across the Choba Area Command of the Nigeria Police, the Civil Rights Council group toured six out of the eight police divisions in the command including the Area Command headquarters itself. The police divisions visited were Ozuoba, Agip, Kala, Rumuepirikom, Rumukpakani, Rumuokoro special division and the Choba Area Command Headquarters. With the aid of a guest lecturer at each outing, the CRC was able to engage officers and men of the police force on the need to follow due legal procedures in their daily routine to avoid the numerous cases of human rights infraction.

 

The training process also provided an opportunity for the officers and men to express the challenges and hazards associated with policing in Nigeria and sought the help of the CRC to lead a campaign on issues of their social welfare. The Civil Rights Council made it clear that they will keep in touch for a human right review of inmates and other detainees in their custody. 

Within the period in focus, the Civil Rights Council in Port Harcourt also mobilized the citizens and intervened in one of the cases of an attempt by a police officer to abuse a detained inmate in the Rumuokoro special division of the police force- one Mrs. Mary Ejaigba. The effort of the CRC resulted in disciplinary measures against the officers involved, recovery of money already extorted from the said lady and her immediate release from police custody with apologies from the police authorities.

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Figure 2. Intervention of CRC Port Harcourt for the treatment of Mrs Richael Paul who was shot by a security detail to the Chairman of Port Harcourt Local Govt. Area

 

Warri CRC

The Warri unit of the Civil Rights Council joined comrades of Edo Civil Society Organization in protest against the Benin Electricity Distribution Company. The protest was informed by the many cases of monetary extortion by the company from their numerous customers without the provision of Electric power. The CRC together with the Edo Civil Society organization extended the protests to the Federal Government at Abuja, where they lodged their complaints with the necessary government agencies.

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Figure 3. Members of CRC Warri Conference

 

The Warri CRC also carried out a public awareness campaign on the need for a violent free general election in Delta State. This was in response to the citizens’ outcry to stem the tide of violence usually witnessed during elections in the State. The violence-free election campaigns involved rallies, road walks and education seminars.

 

Borri and Abuja CRC

The Bori and Abuja Civil Rights Councils also carried out a series of interventions on cases of human rights abuses in their various units of operation. For instance, the Bori CRC carried out a series of campaigns against incessant cases of police extortion, intimidation and torture in Bori Rivers State often resulting in deaths of innocent citizens in the Area. In one of their interventions, five persons arbitrarily arrested and detained at the state CID were released. The CRC intends to deepen its campaign in the coming months with the hope of providing the platform for citizen’s action for social justice.

Social Action Supported Civil Rights Councils Train Nigerian Police On Human Rights

Over the years Nigerian citizens lost confidence in the police because of their engagements in acts of extortion, illegal mass arrests and detention, extrajudicial killings, corruption, unfair and unjust treatments to citizens, sexual harassment to women in detention facilities, unruly behaviors and opting for the highest bidder approach on the issues of bail. As part of an effort to address these challenges, the emerging volunteer organisation, Civil Rights Council has been engaging the police on human rights training in Port Harcourt, Rivers State.

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Recreating the Civil Rights Movement in Nigeria through Popular Education

From October 2–6, 2018, the Nigeria Social Action Camp, an annual event promoted by Social Development Integrated Center (Social Action) with the support of the Rosa Luxembourg Foundation held in Aluu, near Port Harcourt, Rivers State. It is part of initiatives to raise popular consciousness and participation through collaborative learning, mobilisation and solidarity for communities and activists working for environmental justice, democracy and social change in Nigeria.

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Nigeria Social Action Camp, 2018: Strengthening the Movement for Civil Rights and Anti-Corruption in Nigeria

The Nigeria Social Action Camp holds from October 2 – 6 at the Citizenship and Leadership Training Centre, Aluu, near the University of Port Harcourt. Dubbed the ‘Anti-Imperialism Camp’, the annual event is organized by the Social Development Integrated Center (Social Action) with the support of the Rosa Luxembourg Foundation as part of initiatives to raise popular consciousness and participation through collaborative learning, mobilisation and solidarity for communities and activists working for environmental justice, democracy and social change in Nigeria. The Camp provides an opportunity for young people from across Nigeria to learn alternative theoretical ideas and to acquire practical skills to be active participants in the evolving processes for catalysing social change in Nigeria.

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Supporting Citizens Action Through Community Civil Rights Councils

As part of a conscious effort to foster the development and protection of human rights in Nigeria, Social Action has considered it imperative to support community activists that are creating local Civil Rights Councils in several towns and cities in Nigeria. The Civil Rights Council is an ongoing programme intended to provide a platform for raising political consciousness and acquiring the needed skills to confront the reoccurring instances of gross violations of human rights in Nigeria, especially in the poor neighbourhoods of urban areas and in rural areas.

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Amended 2012 PIB: Opportunities and Limitation for the Environment and Development

First introduced in 2008, the Petroleum Industry Bill (PIB) is Nigerian government’s effort to enact a single legislation to address the legal, fiscal and regulatory frameworks governing the oil and gas industry. Following controversies and uncertainties surrounding earlier versions, the executive arm of government introduced a revised PIB to the National Assembly in 2012. Following responses from interest groups including Social Action and other civil society and community groups that demanded for better provisions to address the impacts of oil and gas on local communities and the overall growth and development of the country, legislators have introduced some amendments to the Bill. This Briefing Paper by Social Action explores those amendments to determine strengths and makes recommendations to address areas of weakness.. Read Full Report

Social Action’s Citizenship and Leadership Training Camp advocates alternatives to existing political parties

Resource persons and participants at Social Action’s Leadership Training Camp which held from the 23rd to the 27th of September 2014, have stressed the need for Nigerians to begin identifying alternative development frameworks different from that which is presented by the major political parties in the country.  This call was made on the reasoning that the 2 major political parties- the All Progressives Congress and the Peoples’ Democratic Party- have failed to present manifestos which convincingly demonstrates how they intend to take Nigeria our of its present precarious state.

Speaker after speaker at the 5 day event which held at the Imo state capital Owerri,  stressed the uncanny similarities between both parties, and the fluidity of traffic between both.  Speaking on the topic Neither the APC nor the PDP, former Convener of the United Action for Democracy and Member of the just concluded National Conference, JayeGaskia  described the difference between both parties as that between 12 and half a dozen. ‘Both parties have failed to put across credible alternative paradigms. They have failed to tell Nigerians what exactly they will do differently and how. They have instead demonstrated with certainty that they still subscribe to the politics of mudslinging and conquest”
In his presentation on the topic A Nation in Decline: Ethno Nationalism, Religious Fundamentalism and Corruption, former member of the National Assembly, Uche Onyeagocha decried how fast the country had declined down the loathsome route of ethnic and religious fundamentalism and corruption. He reckoned that the sentiments associated with religion and ethnicity has been fanned by vested interests who have utilized it to divide Nigerians. He proposed that Nigerians should rather look beyond seeming differences and take action which will lead to social transformation.


Speaking on the topic Reconceptualizing Development in Africa: An Alternative Framework, Professor Andrew Efemini of the Department of Philosophy, University of Port Harcourt stated that what successive governments in Nigeria have presented to the people since independence cannot be properly conceived as development.According to him, development was more comprehensive than mere growth in different sectors, and it is even worse when buildings and urban beautification projects are presented as signs of development. “It (development) goes beyond this or that infrastructure, it is the totally of the well being of man from the time he or she is born, to the time he or she dies. Development is measured on this scale”
Other speakers at the event included popular lawyer Wisdom Dureke, Felix Ashimole and Ken Henshaw.
Social Action’s Camps are annual gatherings of young activists drawn from youth groups, student bodies and communities who are keen on grassroots mobilization and have attended other Social Action political education processes.
The Camp meeting which was the 7th in a series had the theme From Theory to Action: Building Platforms and Campaigns for Social Change, and drew participant from over 16 states in the country.